Local By-Election Preview : May 26th 2016

May 26th, 2016

Northallerton South (Con defence) on Hambleton
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 27, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 26)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,414, 758 (49%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 762 (26%)
Labour 739, 654 (25%)
Candidates duly nominated: Caroline Dickinson (Con), Chris Pearson (Yorkshire First), Dave Robertson (UKIP), David Tickle (Lab)

Northallerton (Con defence) on North Yorkshire
Result of council at last election (2013): Conservatives 45, Independents 8, Liberal Democrats 8. Labour 7, Liberals 2, United Kingdom Independence Party 2 (Conservative majority of 18)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Conservative 825 (52%), United Kingdom Independence Party 489 (31%), Labour 259 (16%)
Candidates duly nominated: Michael Chaloner (Green), Caroline Dickinson (Con), Chris Pearson (Yorkshire First), Stephen Place (UKIP), David Tickle (Lab)

The North Yorkshire section of the Green Party probably cannot believe their luck. In a week of a local by-election to the county council (caused by the death of the sitting member who was also a district councillor on Hambleton) the county go ahead and vote in favour of hydraulic extraction (or “fracking” as it is commonly known) despite the fact there his a lot of anger and hostility to the policy which the Greens themselves also oppose.

If the Greens don’t manage to win this (and get their first seat on the council ahead of the local elections next year) then maybe it is possible that economic considerations outweigh environmental concerns in the leafy Conservative shires.

Stapenhill (UKIP defence) on East Staffordshire
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 25, Labour 12, United Kingdom Independence Party 1, Liberal Democrat 1 (Conservative majority of 11)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,251, 1.235, 865 (32%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 1,228 (31%)
Conservatives 963, 819, 714 (25%)
Green Party 488 (12%)
Candidates duly nominated: Sally Green (UKIP), Thomas Hadley (Green), Craig Jones (Lab), Susan Paxton (Ind),
Michael Teasel (Con), Hugh Warner (Lib Dem)

UKIP have a problem when it comes to local by-elections. It’s a problem that has been demonstrated in Wisbech, Camborne, Watton and Newington and that problem is “being simply unable to hold a local by-election defence”. Since the general election up to the local elections at the start of May UKIP have managed to lose six of the eight seats they have been defending in local by-elections and (to make matters worse) seen their vote share drop from 10% at the last elections to 7% now

Fervent UKIP supporters will of course say “But that’s in the past, we have shown that we can win seats where we have contested before, look at Thurrock!” (and yes, whilst I agree that in Thurrock, compared with 2012, UKIP’s vote increased by 21%) they have yet to show this resilience at the local by-election level.

Harry Hayfield


This looks like how REMAIN will play the closing four weeks

May 26th, 2016

Sowing seeds of doubt has been successful before

The poster above has started being circulated on Twitter and my guess is that its is part of the Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for IN. The clarity of approach with a very simple message and even the typeface appear to be Saatchi house style.

Whatever it is a clear message of just how REMAIN looks set to play the final period. People are unsure what OUT actually means and we’ve had mixed messages from the various LEAVE organisation so far during the campaign.

LEAVE needs to find a coherent and commonly agreed message of what going out will actually mean. All need to be singing from the same hymn book – something that’s not happened so far.

My view is that the approach epitomised in this poster is likely to resonate.

Mike Smithson


Judging by his betting price collapse Boris’s back LEAVE decision hasn’t been good for his career ambitions

May 26th, 2016

If the vote is REMAIN the ex-mayor could be the scapegoat

Yesterday the Daily Mail’s renowned columnist, Katie Hopkins had a big go at the ex-Mayor under the heading “I thought Boris was going to save Britain from the EU, instead he has turned out to be a big fat fraud.”

In it she registered in her own inimitable style her disappointment at Johnson’s performance in the three months since he made his announcement on February 21st. She concludes:

If the Brexit side does lose, much of the blame will lie with Boris – who will have no compunction about scampering back aboard the government bus if he gets half a chance.

So let’s hope Cameron doesn’t forgive him. Because I won’t.

Whatever happens on June 23rd there will be a huge fall-out across the political scene but most of all within the Conservative party. A LEAVE win or a very narrow REMAIN victory look set to be the peg for Cameron’s exit and we will move into contest.

To become Tory leader Boris has first to surmount the parliamentary test and come in the top two of exhaustive ballots of party MPs. Assuming Osborne or an Osbo-backed contender gets one of those slots the big fight looks set to be amongst the Brexiters. That could be down to “Boris” or the “Stop Boris” choice. So the ex-Mayor’s future could be in the hands of his fellow BREXIT Tory MPs and their perception of his contribution to the outcome will be crucial.

It has been said ever since his decision on February to back leave that he was doing this solely for career purposes. Maybe that will turn out to have been a huge gamble that failed.

Mike Smithson


Gov. John Hickenlooper – my 80/1 longshot for the Democratic VP nomination

May 25th, 2016

This afternoon I got a tip from someone in Colorado that the state governor, John Hickenlooper, was in with a good chance of becoming Hillary’s VP choice.

I quickly went into Betfair and got £11 at an average price of 81.59 without knowing a thing about him. I then Tweeted what I’d done and since then the price has moved in sharply.

A little bit of time on Google later indeed confirmed that he was widely being talked about for this role and other factors seemed right.

Clinton’s big problem is that she cannot possibly risk choosing a senator from a state which currently has a Republican governor. The battle for the Senate in November is going to be critical and the her party needs four gains to win control. She simply cannot add to the pressure by choosing one of a number of likely Senator VP picks.

The way it works is that if a Senator was elected VP then a vacancy would occur which would be filled by the choice of the Governor in the relevant state. That rules out some front runners in the Veepstakes.

Hickenlooper, and I just love that name, comes over very well and his being on the ticket could help the Democrats to take the state in the presidential election.

Mike Smithson


Survation phone survey continues the EURef polling divide: Remain 8% lead remains

May 25th, 2016


EU Ref polling   Google Sheets (1)

I’m off to London this after to record the first PB/Polling Matters TV Show in our new studios near Victoria. Keiran Pedley and I will, no doubt, spend a lot of time discussing the polling and trying to make sense of it.

There’s also been news of a London EURef poll.

Mike Smithson


Ex-Treasury minister & Brexiter, Andrea Leadsom, is having a good war and should be given a bigger role

May 25th, 2016


She’s starting to look like a possible leadership contender

A new YouGov referendum poll published overnight has both sides level-pegging – a marked change from last week’s 4% REMAIN lead. It is a sharp reminder that this could be very close and reinforces the big polling story of this election – the huge divide between phone and online.

If it is a very tight outcome then there will be enormous pressure on David Cameron and we could have a new CON leader and PM within a few months. The question for punters is who?

Of the Tory Brexiters IDS, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and, of course, Boris Johnson have been the most prominent but I don’t think any have done their leadership prospects much good. Boris has been all bluster and he’s seen a sharp decline in his position on Betfair. As to the others it is hard to see Michael Gove as a leader although he has wide support within the party.

    The one who is impressing most at the moment is Andrea Leadsom the former Economic Secretary to the Treasury and now climate change minister of state.

She became an MP at GE2010 after a very successful career in the city. During the LIBOR scandal in 2012 she made a name for herself with some of her cross-examinations on the Treasury committee and for criticising George Osborne. On Monday’s Newsnight EURef discussion she was the lead for her party and showed how hugely effective she can be

She comes over as a fearless and powerful communicator and should be given a bigger role in the LEAVE campaign which is so dominated by men. She was state school educated and a graduate of Warwick.

I’ve had punts on her overnight as next CON leader a PM at longshot odds at up to 90/1.

Mike Smithson


How old men being available on Friday nights to do online polls might be skewing results

May 24th, 2016


Very early responders to poll invites might not be representative

After YouGov’s methodology changes last week ICM have announced their own measures as we approach the big day.

This is the firm’s Martin Boon he explains it on the pollster’s website:

“..Interviews tend to build up quickly on each Friday night, probably because certain types of people are more readily available and willing to participate. Indeed, there is a remarkable consistency across our online polls, with big Leave leads being built up in each hour from 4pm to 9pm on a Friday, partially mitigated by big Remain In leads every hour thereafter until the survey closes, ostensibly by Monday morning for data delivery to clients.

We believe it likely that the weight of interviews generated before 9pm on a Friday has the effect of consolidating a Leave lead as a result of the survey process itself – demographic quota cells fill up and ‘close’ once the target number has been hit. If a specific cell, such as 65+ men, is filled early with people disproportionately likely to support Leave, no additional 65+ men will subsequently be allowed on the survey. As a result, interviews with 65+ men are unlikely to be politically or attitudinally representative of all such 65+ men even though in demographic terms they are identical. But they are not, and their presence possibly introduces a small skew into in favour of Leave (or UKIP, depending on the question looked at).”

As a result the pollster is to stagger the release of invites to take part in its political polls and also to introduce a new weighting.

“..However, it is unlikely that process change outlined above will solve the problem other than partially. Respondents more inclined to Brexit may be equally fast to respond to their invite at other times during the weekend, thus still affecting the data but less overtly. As a consequence we are overlaying a new weighting scheme to reflect the profile of response by quickness to participate.

We will not publish full technical details of this weighting scheme, for fear of conditioning its power. However, we will be applying a “time of response weight” to reflect disparity in response between early responders and late responders. The net effect of this weight, so far, has been to reduce the Leave share by up to 2-points, with a corresponding increase in the Remain share by up to 2-points. It is entirely possible that the strength and direction of this weighting effect will change, if the pattern of response changes on any individual survey.”

The latest poll sees IN and OUT level pegging following a 4% OUT lead in last week’s poll.

Mike Smithson


The Trump-Boris mural on the Bristol wall – the betting chances of what’s depicted actually happening

May 24th, 2016

Winner 2016 White House Race

Next CON leader